Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Volleyball Over Everything: Tips For A Coach

As an athlete, it was easy to say how I would run my team if I ever coached. Very much easier said than done. Coaches have a lot to think about, planning practices, games, rotations or line ups, athletes, and their parents. I wish I could have had a practice run before I had my first coaching experience. Needless to say, there was a lot of trial and error at first. In this blog, I wanted to list some tips that may help you or someone you know in the future.

  1. Develop communication skills and never stop trying to improve them.
  2. Be open minded, never stop learning.
  3. Be a role model for your athletes, they will want to do good for you.
  4. Embrace effective change.
  5. Ensure you fully understand what coaching is.
  6. Learn and practice effective coaching.
  7. Listen, listen, listen.
  8. You can not please everyone.
  9. Be firm.
  10. Create an environment that will help develop your athletes into the best they can be.
  11. Use age appropriate reinforcement.
  12. Teach Resilience.
  13. Communicate with parents.

There are plenty more tips that will come from you with time and experience. As a coach or mentor, seek out information. DO NOT be afraid to ask for help or guidance from those around you, you never know what insight someone else may have that will help you reach your coaching goals. If there is a chance of doubt in what you are doing, take the time to learn from someone else's experiences.

1. 101 Coaching Tips. (2016). Retrieved from Wayne Goldsmith:
2. The Art of Manliness. (6, April 2015). Retrieved from

Flexibility and Stretching Techniques tightness, which is often associated with an increased risk of muscle tears, can be reduced before training or competing with dynamic stretching.  Static stretching prior to an athletic event can actually be detrimental to athletic performance and offer no protection from injury.  For this reason, many strength and conditioning coaches now favor dynamic stretches over static stretches as part of the warmup.2 A flexible athlete is a mobile athlete, which results in  enhanced movement around the court or field with greater ease and dexterity.  Some other benefits may include an increase in the athlete's body awareness and a promotion of relaxation in the muscle groups stretched.  Both of these will have a positive implication for skill acquisition and performance.2
There are several different types of flexibility and stretching techniques:
  1. Dynamic stretching- uses speed of movement, momentum and active muscular effort to bring about a stretch.
  2. Ballistic stretching- involves active muscular effort similar to dynamic stretching.  However, ballistic stretching uses a bouncing or jerking movement to increase the stretch.
  3. Static Active stretching- is simply the opposite of dynamic stretching.  The muscle groups are stretched without moving the limb itself and the end position is held from 30-90 seconds.
  4. Static passive stretching- is often referred to as just static stretching where the position is held for just brief periods.
  5. Isometric stretching- one of the most effective methods for improving passive flexibility.
  6. PNF stretching- proprioceptive muscular facilitation is used in training to increase the range of motion.
Image result for flexibility and stretching exercisesSo, which one is the best?  All of them- in a progressive, integrated fashion.  The best flexibility training programs incorporate multiple forms of stretching to meet the needs of the athlete.  Each type of stretch creates different effects on the neuromuscular system, and can be used in combination to safely and effectively increase flexibility.1

1Clark, M., Lucett, S., & Corn, R. J. (2008). NASM essentials of personal fitness training. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
2Flexibility Training... Stretching For Sport And Athletes. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from

Teaching Students with Disabilities part 2

Teaching Students with Disabilities part 2
This is the second of a 2 part series on discussing different disabilities and how the Texas Education Law supports them. The focus will be on fetal alcohol syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome and Dual Diagnosis (Multiple Disabilities).

  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASDs)- There are a range of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders that are from prenatal alcohol exposure. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most severe condition on the spectrum, FASDs form the largest class of birth impairments that can be 100% prevented by not consuming alcohol during the pregnancy. The CDC reports show that FAS occurs 0.2 to 1.5 per 1,000 live births in the United States. FAS is determined by 4 criteria which include: abnormal face features; lower-than-average height, weight or both; central nervous system problems; and prenatal alcohol exposure.2 There has not been a determination of the amount of alcohol that is required to cause FAS. However, it is proven that the most critical impact on the unborn child is throughout the first trimester. Brain development is particularly sensitive and the alcohol can diminish the amount of cells that are produced. If consumed in later stages of pregnancy, the alcohol can result in fetal distress, reduced growth, poor CNS development, or miscarriage.2 Immediate developmental delays are presented as: trouble sleeping; irritable or restless; difficulty sucking. Within the first 2 years of life, speech and language development delays are seen. Other problems are: difficulty with math skills, planning, sequencing, and self-monitoring, as well as developing appropriate social interactions. Behavioral and emotional problems can occur as well.

    • Texas Educational Law Texas Educational Law Eligibility “Intellectual disability. A student with an intellectual disability is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for an intellectual disability as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(6). In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(6), a student with an intellectual disability is one who:

      • (A) Has been determined to have significantly sub-average intellectual functioning as measured by a standardized, individually administered test of cognitive ability in which the overall test score is at least two standard deviations below the mean, when taking into consideration the standard error of measurement of the test; and

      • (B) Concurrently exhibits deficits in at least two of the following areas of adaptive behavior: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health, and safety.”1

  • Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS)- PWS is not inherited, but it is caused by a chromosomal anomaly on chromosome number 15 and occurs in 1 of every 10,000 births; and it is a moderate disability (IQ ranges from 40 to over 100). Common characteristics include propensity for overeating, obesity, ADHD and low muscle tone. Infants will show extreme hypotonia, a weak cry, poor sucking and swallowing, and little interest in food.2 Between the ages of 1 to 3 they will develop insatiable appetites, they will want to eat continuously and develop life-threatening obesity. They will show a delay in psychomotor activity, cognitive delay, and emotional-behavioral problems. People with PWS are short in stature, have small hands and feet and underdeveloped sexual organs. Children show delays in motor skills and will walk later than most. Speech and language development issues are seen as well. Some common behavioral characteristics include compulsive behavior, excessive sleeping, stubbornness, obsessions, temper tantrums and impulsivity.2 Interventions should focus on weight management, positive behavior support; educational development will focus on planning transition. If weight can be managed then a normal life expectancy is possible; if not, then obesity can lead to other complications such as lung and heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and others. “Their hunger is painful and constant, and leads to an unceasing pursuit of food.”2

    • Texas Educational Law Eligibility  “Multiple disabilities.
      • (A)  A student with multiple disabilities is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for multiple disabilities as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(7). In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(7), a student with multiple disabilities is one who has a combination of disabilities defined in this section and who meets all of the following conditions:
        • (i)  the student's disability is expected to continue indefinitely; and
        • (ii)  the disabilities severely impair performance in two or more of the following areas:
        • (I)  psychomotor skills;
        • (II)  self-care skills;
        • (III)  communication;
        • (IV)  social and emotional development; or
        • (V)  cognition.

      • (B)  Students who have more than one of the disabilities defined in this section but who do not meet the criteria in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph must not be classified or reported as having multiple disabilities.”1

  • Multiple Disabilities or Dual Diagnosis- Having one or more disabilities including physical, sensory, in addition to having intellectual disabilities. This term does not refer to a specific syndrome however those with multiple disabilities usually have other health problems that complicate their disabilities. These students are likely to engage in stereotyped behaviors including hand flapping, self-injurious behaviors like head banging or loud vocalizations.2 Many students with multiple disabilities benefit from using alternative or augmentative devices.

    • Texas Educational Law Eligibility  “Multiple disabilities.
      • (A)  A student with multiple disabilities is one who has been determined to meet the criteria for multiple disabilities as stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(7). In meeting the criteria stated in 34 CFR, §300.8(c)(7), a student with multiple disabilities is one who has a combination of disabilities defined in this section and who meets all of the following conditions:
        • (i)  the student's disability is expected to continue indefinitely; and
        • (ii)  the disabilities severely impair performance in two or more of the following areas:
        • (I)  psychomotor skills;
        • (II)  self-care skills;
        • (III)  communication;
        • (IV)  social and emotional development; or
        • (V)  cognition.

      • (B)  Students who have more than one of the disabilities defined in this section but who do not meet the criteria in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph must not be classified or reported as having multiple disabilities.”1

119 TAC Chapter 89, Subchapter AA. Retrieved June 19, 2016, From

2Westling, D. L., Fox, L., & Carter, E. W. (2015). Teaching students with severe disabilities (5th ed.) Boston: Pearson

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Living With Type 1 Diabetes: JDRF

JDRF, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, is an organization that puts on a walk to cure diabetes. Have you ever been to Walgreens or other stores that have “shoes” hanging all over the walls? These shoes are bought by customers who donated money to diabetic research.

JDRF is the leading type 1 diabetic event in the world and the leading global organization funding promises to type 1 diabetes research.1 The money raised goes to research to find scientific ways to help make living with type 1 diabetes easier. Some of the things that JDRF has mentioned could help are an artificial pancreas, reduce diabetes from adding other complications to life, and beta cell replacement.1

As a little girl, I used to participate in these walks yearly. My family and I would create a team, get shirts made, raise a lot of money, and overall have fun. This experience was something I will remember forever. I still participate today but do not create a huge team. One year I got to cut the ribbon to begin the race because I was the top fundraising team. My teams name is “Nichole’s Angels”. Each year we participate, I place an order for shirts if anyone participating on my team wants one. It is a fun event. At the walk, there are also a lot of vendors with diabetic supplies, so I get to go and see all the new gadgets and tools that we are raising money for these companies to make.

Anyone can donate to JDRF. By joining a team to walk with, you can make donations when signing up for the team. Local stores sometimes have donations during certain months. You can also go to the JDRF website and donate right there online. Every dollar counts! About 1.25 million American adults and children are living with type 1 diabetes today. Diabetes is also ranked number 7 in leading cause of death.2

So let me ask you, will you donate to JDRF, or any other research foundation for type 1 diabetes? Help create a world where type 1 diabetes is easier to live with or completely nonexistent. I can speak for all the type 1 diabetics in this world when I say every penny to research matters and makes a difference in our life! Nichole’s Angels will be participating in the walk this year. If you or a friend would like to join the team or donate money to the team, my team will be listed on the website under my team name. I hope you will want to help turn type 1 into type none!

1Donate To JDRF Today | (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from

2Help me create a world without type 1 diabetes. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from

Positive Effects of Video Games on the Body

So gamers, we start to near our end on this blog journey. I wanted to close out with a really positive one. We’ve covered health issues caused by videogames, nutrition issues we get ourselves into, but not how video games can be used positively.
If you ask my mother, she would tell you nothing good could ever come from a video game, and I’m wasting my time. Yes, I still love my mother even though she bashes my hobby. But I believe my mom is dead wrong on gaming being just a waste of time. Here are a few positive effects that videogames can have.

  • Problem solving and using logic1 – Think about it. Weather you playing Mario and jumping around or playing Call of Duty, you are using your problem solving skills. Either that or you will not be playing the game for very long due to frustration. It may not seem like you are using problem solving skills while working on that K/D, but stop and think about it. You come to a corner in a map and you immediately go through a problem solving situation. Do I stop and wait, do I rush through, where are they spawning, what did that guy just kill me with, do I hear anything. These and many other questions literally go through your mind and process instantly. These problem solving skills help you in your day to day life. I mean you have to make way more difficult decisions in video games versus real life. If anyone tries to argue with this, just tell them about the ending to Mass Effect 3. I guarantee you’ve never had to make a real life decision that could destroy an entire species.   
  • Reflexes2 – Take the same scenario as above. The second you round the corner, you see a body, if you’ve been playing awhile like myself you react faster than someone that just picked up the game. This is why Christmas is the greatest time to play. Christmas noobs just have slower reflexes. Science. Boom.
  • Hand eye coordination – This really gets worked out in FPS games. The ability to move two little sticks or use a mouse and keyboard to shoot someone on the screen takes some serious hand eye coordination. This has been a known cause to cause someone to be a better surgeon.
These are but a few of the positives ways video games can affect your life. Remember some of the key phrases that I’ve used throughout this blog series. Don’t let something you love kill you, take a break every once in awhile, and as always gamers, game safe gamers!


1Granic, I. (2013, November 25). Video Games Play May Provide Learning, Health, Social Benefits, Review Finds. Retrieved June 20, 2016, from

2The Positive and Negative Effects of Video Games. (2015). Retrieved June 20, 2016, from

Obesity and Video Games

We gamers get a pretty bad rap some of the time. We get called lazy, some of us may put on a few pounds from inactivity, or we get called unsocial. Well one issue that we need to look at for sure ecompasses the first two. Obesity in general is a problem, not just in gamers, but in all of the world. We as gamers have a tendency to step into this problem of our own accord far too regularly. In a health report taken in 2007 one out of every seven children are considered obese.2 This is a problem we need to take very seriously.

Why do I need to take it seriously?

Well, obesity is known to cause a few serious issues to start off with. Let’s start with diabetes and cancer. I bet I have your attention now.  Another two major diseases it has a part in are heart disease and high blood pressure. Yes, obesity is known to factor into these diseases and more. But the beautiful thing about it is, we can help ourselves and prevent this.

Am I obese?

The basic definition of an obese person is one that has too much body fat. They use a technical term called BMI (body mass index) that uses height and weight to place you on a chart. We won’t delve any deeper into that here. If you are interested you can look at the CDC’s website at 1 and calculate your own BMI and find yourself on the chart and answer this question for yourself. Be aware this number does not define if  you are obese or not obese, it is just an indicator. There are other factors such as your body comp to take into account but your BMI is a good start.

What can we do to prevent obesity?

Well I’m glad you asked. There are two simple things we can do to help prevent ourselves from becoming a statistic.

  • Exercise - Movement is key. We as gamers, spend a lot of time sitting in front of the TV or computer. Get up and move around. We talked about this multiple times in a few blogs, but this time I’m going to ask a little more of you. Go find an exercise you enjoy and do it multiple times a week. This can be walking, lifting weights, or playing a sport, just do something that gets your blood pumping.

  • Diet - We hit on some nutrition points in our blogs at and But we will hit some basics here. Cut out the sugar, cut out the fat, and get some healthy meal options inside of you. Consume those fruits and vegetables, eat lean meat, get rid of the cokes and sweets! Eating a well rounded healthy diet reduces your risks immensely.

By hitting these two key points in your day to day life you increase your chance for a healthy long life, not just free from obesity but from other numerous health related issues. As always gamers, game safe!


1 Defining Adult Overweight and Obesity. (2012, April 27). Retrieved June 06, 2016, from

2 TV/video games and child obesity. (n.d.). Retrieved June 06, 2016, from

Video Games and Sleep Loss

So if you’re like me, you probably have spent a few all-nighters studying for that final, maybe a party or two, or my favorite: an all-night gaming binge. While I still do this from time to time, I can feel my age starting to catch up with me when I stay up  too late. Let’s take a look at how staying up and pulling all-nighters while on the game can affect us.

You may think your body is magically rejuvenated after 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Well that’s not quite how it works. There are two sides of sleep called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non- REM sleep and you need both during the night in order to feel rested when you wake up. Non- REM sleep is what a majority of your sleep consists of. This is where you are relax and become rested. REM sleep is where you have vivid dreams and a lot of your memory consolidation occurs during this sleeping stage.

Some problems that can come from messing with your sleep cycle are as follows:

  • Gaming close to bed can cause you to lose 30 to 40 mins of sleep2 – A lot of this is due to the interactive nature of videogames and its possible it could be caused by the blue light emitted by TV’s and computer screens. But the facts remain the same, sleep loss happens. This loss of sleep happens in one of two ways. Either by being overstimulated and not being able to fall asleep or from waking up periodically throughout the night.
  • Loss of REM sleep – When you lose REM sleep, you take the time it uses to help store memories away from it1. This could cause a multitude of things from memory loss to the inability to do complex tasks

These two issues may not sound like a big deal but everything that you do to your body adds up. If you continue on this type of sleep deprived patterns throughout your life, it could affect the way you live outside of the game. Until next time gamers, game safe!

1Carbone, M. (2015). This is how video games can screw up your sleep | Sleep Junkies. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from

2Good, O. (2012). Two Years Later, Sleep Researchers Now Say Gaming Before Bed Is Bad. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from